The Volokh Conspiracy

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"*Every* bond between Ukrainians & Russians - familial, cultural, historical - is being broken."

From British journalist Neil Hauer; unsurprising, but still worth reading, I think.


From Hauer's Twitter thread:

Something I've noticed over the past week or so here: almost every Ukrainian I spoke to has made it clear that they blame not only Putin, but the average Russian as much (or more) for this war. The view is: we overthrew our corrupt government, and they accept their murderous one.

The amount of animosity from the average Ukrainian towards the average Russian is already huge and growing more with every single new airstrike, every new civilian death. The effects of this war will last for generations.

And I'm saying this from Kharkiv [in the Eastern Ukraine, which is more Russian-speaking than much of the rest of the country -EV]. I think I saw more virulently anti-Russian views here than anywhere else in the country. The sense of betrayal here, of 'how could they possibly do this to *us*', is incredible.

The people we watched crawl out of the rubble today told us their relatives in Moscow didn't believe them. Videos of their destroyed home were met with 'it's a fake' or 'Nazis did it.' *Every* bond between Ukrainians & Russians - familial, cultural, historical - is being broken.

For two poems on this, from 2014 (and consider how much worse things are now), see "Together we christened our children" and "We will never be brothers."

NEXT: David Lat's "Open Letter to Yale Law Dean Heather Gerken"

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  1. Again, American lawyers, why is Putin still alive?

    1. Is it only American lawyers that are responsible for assassinating Putin? What about the Russian lawyers?

    2. Same reason "W" is still alive, and why really horrible Tyrants like Stalin, Mao, Khomeni, and LBJ lived out their natural lives.

      1. LBJ the tyrant.

        You are a trip.

        1. He is clearly speaking his personal pravda.

  2. Indeed.

    On a somewhat different note, an item I've been considering. When/does Ukraine "strike back at Russia?" By which I mean, is it worth it for Ukraine to strike back at military targets on Russian/Belarusian soil.

    One of the items that hasn't quite been considered thoroughly is that Ukraine still possesses quite a bit of air power, in the form of drone aircraft (as well as some strike aircraft, and potential surface to surface missiles). Russia's logistical hubs within Russia and Belarus are legitimate military targets that would greatly hamper the Russian attack. In a vacuum, they would be considered valuable targets and potentially attacked. However, we're not quite in such a vacuum. What are the potential issues of such attacks.

    1. An attack "on Russia" may inspire Russians troops. Rather than just invading, they would instead be "protecting their country". Morale plays a major role here.

    2. An attack "on Russia" may prompt more severe countermeasures from Russia itself. Whether it be widespread shelling or WMD attacks.

    3. Use of Western arms in such an attack may be looked at adversely by the Western Powers and/or Russia, leading to less western arms in the future. It's one think for American-made drones to be hitting targets in Ukraine. It's another entirely for them to be hitting targets in Russia.

    Still...the concept of Ukraine hitting targets within Russia needs to be considered, especially as the war continues. Currently, the time isn't right, for the above reasons. But given 6 months of a bloody stalemate, the calculus may change for Ukraine's leaders.

    1. Any Ukrainian attack on Russia itself would be a political mistake. If they were more equally sized, it might make military sense, but Ukraine's one big advantage now is the world blaming this entirely on Putin and Russia. No military advantage is worth the loss of popular world support.

      1. In the short term, yes.

        In the long term? If this stalemates for 6 months, things solidify, the world grows weary of the news....

        Again, we're not considering "terrorist" attacks (like an attack on Moscow), but attacks on military depots near the Ukranian border that are supplying the troops in Russia. Or Russian airfields and missile sites being used to support aircraft and fire missiles into Ukraine.

        1. As a counterpoint. The Korean War was quickly and easily won. The American and allied forces pushed North Korea back to the border rapidly with minimal casualties.

          Then, we pushed forward into North Korea, and encountered a grueling stalemate.

          We don't want to repeat our past mistake.

          1. Then, we pushed forward into North Korea, and encountered a grueling stalemate.

            Um, no.

            The United States pushed forward into North Korea, and the North Koreans continued to reel, and everybody expected an easy unification under an American-allied government. No stalemate.

            Then the Chinese attacked, and pushed the US way, way south. Still not a stalemate.

            Then the US regrouped and systematically ground the Chinese back to the 38th parallel, which was still not a stalemate.

            And then the United States chose to not engage in any strategic offensive (as opposed to local tactical offensives) during the next two thirds of the war, because its leaders thought that approach would best serve the the US's goals.

            The United States never encountered a stalemate at any point in the Korean War. A stalemate is when neither side can advance, not a case where one side chooses not to advance because it thinks advancing would be destructive to its interests.

            1. We didn't easily win at the outset either. There were serious concerns about an "American Dunkirk" until the successful and very risky amphibious landing at Inchon, behind North Korean lines.

        2. If this thing turns into a six month stalemate, there will be too many calls for humanitarian assistance for Ukraine for the rest of the world to ignore; NATO, possibly under UN auspices, will have to respond by bringing supplies in from Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Putin might want to prevent that, he might say that is an act of aggression, but world public opinion will absolutely be on the side of humanitarian relief, and all they have to do is flag it as UN relief to nullify the NATO taint.

          Russia doesn't seem to have the military supplies to tolerate a six month stalemate. I would guess the most likely face-saving escape for Putin is to pull back everywhere except the two eastern provinces before it reaches six months and proclaim victory, and everyone else, including Ukraine, might have to accept that, but I wouldn't be surprised if UN peacekeepers end up in Ukraine to keep Putin from returning.

          And Putin has trashed Russia's military and political reputations. If the oligarchs and generals don't depose him, I will be surprised, but Russia won't recover for years.

    2. Wrong move, you don't want to make it an existential war for Russia.

      Ukraine may feel a deep seated rage. But Russia is feeling frustration and shame. Don't make Russia share the rage.

      The troops don't want to be there, don't give them any motivation to think they've been wronged and have something to fight for.

      1. As I mentioned, in the short term, it's politically undesirable.

        But targeted military strikes at ammo, fuel and fuel depots in Russia...not across Russia of course...but those being used to support the front line troops in something that must be under consideration. That wouldn't be an "existential" war for Russia. But would be of concern to them.

        1. Yeah, I agree military supplies that are intended to support the Ukraine war are definitely legitimate and expected targets.

          But still high risk, because it wouldn't take more than one or two civilian casualties for Russia to go on a huge propaganda effort and make it Stalingrad II.

          1. So, here's a devil's argument for you.

            Let's say you're right, it only takes 1 or two civilian casualties.

            What are the odds Putin does it himself. A False Flag operation, where "Ukrainians" kills a number of Russian civilians. And they get a big propaganda bonus

            If that happens, does it change the calculus for doing it for real?

    3. "When/does Ukraine "strike back at Russia?" By which I mean, is it worth it for Ukraine to strike back at military targets on Russian/Belarusian soil."

      You'd think that striking at military targets in Ukraine would be a higher priority. But if the Russians withdraw, or Ukraine degrades the units in Ukraine until they are no longer a threat, there's no reason for Ukraine to allow Russian military units safe haven in Russia.

      They should have no qualms about destroying anything in Russia that can threaten Ukraine.

      1. The calculus there is interesting. The major supply depots of fuel, ammo, repair parts, and more are in Russia and Belarus. Successful strikes there would have dramatic effects on the front line forces. You can't fight without fuel or ammo

      2. There are reports out of Belarus of attacks on rail yards and tracks use for transporting Russian supplies. Not direct attacks on Russians, just the logistical supply points. The reports are saying it's not Ukrainians but native Byelorussians who are opposed to their own dictator.

        Interesting development, if true.

      3. That's an interesting analysis, and seems remarkably simple and correct. If Ukraine can clobber supplies in Russia, they can clobber them more easily in Ukraine, so why make Russia even a partial temporary victim?

        Military-wise, in the long term, it might be marginally more efficient to destroy the big supply dumps in Russia, but the cost is too much for the small gain.

        Of course, I am an armchair general and logistics expert too 🙂

    4. Yo, Armchair. Are you a lawyer or not?

      You people here are nuts and idiots. You want to kill Russian peasants and working people in dumbass military operations.

      How about ending it all, by killing Putin and his oiligarchs? What is wrong with you people?

      1. Just like the Vietnam War ended when Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh died.....

      2. I got into a stupid argument with someone who thought (perhaps he was just trolling me) Putin could defeat Joe Rogan in hand to hand combat. Both are them have a relatively high level of expertise and strength compared to the rest of us; but Rogan would kill him in a minute with leg kicks and head stomps. The person thought that KGB had some kind of special martial arts woo woo that made Putin like Batman.

        But what the KGB DID teach Putin is to make sure people like Rogan get nowhere near him to do damage.

        So what I'm getting at is why do assume it would be so easy to assassinate Putin?

        1. Meant to write "martial arts expertise."

    5. AL...I personally don't think Ukraine has the capability to hit Russia 'Proper'. I don't think Ukrainians are constrained by a lack of desire to hit back. They are constrained by not having the capability.

      Based on what I have read in the popular press, the Ukrainians have managed to destroy about 10% of Russia's tanks (roughly 200-250 out of 2400) in Ukraine, some Russian artillery, some Russian air combat power. If NATO wants to forestall further Russian action against a NATO nation in the near future, the Ukrainians must kill lots more tanks and artillery. My hypothesis is that with 20% combat losses, Russia's appetite for more fighting diminishes very rapidly. Out of a force of 190K, you're looking to send 40K body bags home to Russia, courtesy of Ukraine.

      I will also say that in a straight-up conventional conflict, NATO will absolutely cream Russia. I think Russia understands that, having watched the performance of their conscript army, augmented with foreign mercenaries.

      Russia makes daily progress militarily. Ukraine will be reduced to rubble (ala Grozny) or Ukraine will surrender. It hasn't even been a month, and Russia has already established a direct land bridge to Crimea (fighting against a prepared, determined Ukraine) from Russia.

      POTUS Biden has managed to keep America out of that conflict. I hope (and literally pray) he continues to make good decisions on keeping America out of that conflict. Ukraine is not America's fight; Ukraine's war with Russia is not worth the life of a single American. Not one. Eisenhower did not intervene in Hungary in 1956. America (and NATO) actually can stand by and watch Russia invade a non-NATO country and do nothing directly.

      1. "Russia makes daily progress militarily. Ukraine will be reduced to rubble (ala Grozny) or Ukraine will surrender."

        Any evidence that Ukraine will suffer a better fate if it surrenders? It's a lot easer to reduce the country to rubble if it surrenders.

        1. Ending the war will be harder than starting it, TIP.

          It will require creative diplomacy (notably lacking at State Department), and a willingness to make some hard compromises. For example, who pays for Ukraine reconstruction? Does Ukraine retain access to the sea (see Odessa), post-conflict? What level of neutrality will Ukraine and Russia find acceptable? What conditions have US and EU articulated to remove sanctions, and on what timetable?

          For now, Ukraine must fight on and reduce Russian combat power, and forestall Russia's ability to move further west. The Russian Bear has not been wounded enough to pause. When they pause, that is when we must talk quietly about ending the fighting.

        2. Putin will not reduce a surrendered Ukraine to rubble. He needs intact living space for Russians. His goal is to denazify it, i.e. remove pro-independence and pro-Western groups. Probably only 1% of the population would need to go. Maybe less.

          Whatever happened to the Soviet labor camps in Siberia? Are they empty and available? Asking for my buddy Vlad.

        3. “…there's no reason for Ukraine to allow Russian military units safe haven in Russia.”

          I mean, they’re from Russia. Still, it seems some of you think this is a matter of two armies bashing against each other on the battlefield, instead of the unprovoked invasion/desperate fight for survival that it is. Ukraine is not trying to bury Russia. They just want Putin’s pudgy little fingers and his military out of Ukraine. Nevermind that Ukraine does not have the capability, or likely even the inclination, to try to wipe out the Russian military. Or that any such attempt would quickly erode the broad international support they currently enjoy, which would be very bad for Ukraine.

          Russia is fighting for conquest. Ukraine is fighting for its existence.

      2. If Russia hasn't managed to even encircle Kyiv by now, they sure have not demonstrated the most basic military competency. Any claims of daily progress need something more than assertions.

        1. It hasn't even been a month, and Russia has already established a direct land bridge to Crimea (fighting against a prepared, determined Ukraine) from Russia.

          Open up a damned map.

          1. Open up a damned calendar.

      3. Commenter,

        I disagree. I would say Ukraine has limited ability to hit Russia proper. I'm not talking about a ground invasion, but limited air strikes (via drone, missile, or aircraft), or via special forces insertion. There's a long land border, and they demonstrated substantial drone capabilities.

        One way to "kill more troops" to make sure they don't have sufficient ammo or fuel. Which can be helped by hitting the ammo and fuel depots in Russia.

        In addition, Ukraine isn't Grozny. It is much, much, larger, with a long border with NATO counties, across which supplies flow. And remember, Russia essentially "lost" the first Chechnya war. It's worth looking up again what actually happened there

        1. AL....Time will tell. Let's compare notes on April 30th.

    6. Never. Their entire focus is on defense, obviously. They don’t have close to the resources necessary to defend Ukraine *and* go on the offense in Russia. And they’re only fighting now because they want Russia out of Ukraine.

    7. I've wondered this. It didn't take the US very long to send the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, to let the people there know they bit off something too much right away.

      1. Correct, and after June 1942, the major 'sea battle' was over in the Pacific. It was a hard slog afterward, island by island, to victory.

    8. The time to "hit" Russia will be after the troops are chased out of Ukraine. The sanctions are a "seige" of the whole country. It may take years, but oil is not getting out of Russia. Onmce the pipes back up, there is nowhere for it to go, and they have to shut down the wells. Turning them back takes decades - and literally every tech company that can make them work has already pulled out. They don't have enough educated people to turn them back on themselves.

      Insurers already will not cover anyone doing business in Russian ports.

      Putin literally does not have enough military aged men to replace the army he's got - and though they are two million strong, (ten milion with "reserves") most of them are spread out covering the rest of the country.

      With the banks closed, there is no currency, and they don't have the means to pay suppliers, or soldiers, and no one is elling them replacement parts.

      "All" (as if it's trivial, I know) the Ukrainians have to do is hold out long enough for Russia to be incapable of waging a land war. Once Putin has spent his army, there is not another.

      If he goes nuclear, we'll all be living on bark and bugs, but I doubt the Russians will be able to do anything but skate on the plains of glass that will replace the permafrost.

      Zelensky is smart enough to keep it in Ukraine, and make the country inhospitable to Russians, instead of giving them a reason to fight.

  3. The people we watched crawl out of the rubble today told us their relatives in Moscow didn't believe them. Videos of their destroyed home were met with 'it's a fake' or 'Nazis did it.'

    That's what happens when the government censors "fake news" and "misinformation." (Which Democrats have been braying for these past few years!)

  4. Americans killed each other in the hundreds of thousands in the Civil war people gravitate to the smallest tribal association

    1. Time for peasant and working people to return the favor against the lawyer profession.

      1. Because every person who died in the American Civil War was killed by lawyers?

  5. Sadly, monuments to peacemakers are often defiled and removed while monuments to sadistic rapists and murders remain golden: both the evil and the division will be forgotten in time. [ ]

    What would Leonid Kravchuk say in response to the downfall of the Commonwealth of Independent States?

  6. Russia is -- and has been so far as anyone alive today can remember -- a low-quality country. At some point, that constitutes a reflection of its citizenry. Mostly cowards, it appears.

    1. Shithole country, Arthur. The term is shithole country.

    2. low quality country that's kicking Ukraine's Ass and has the rest of the "Free World" (If you can't name a Man "Man of the Year" without being Social Media Exiled to Siberia are you really free? Dr. Levines a Man (Baby!) and an ugly one at that.

  7. I don't know if these news sources are accurate, but I have seen many reports of Ukrainians taping Russians and perhaps Ukrainians with heavy Russian ancestry to poles and doing unspeakable things to them. I hope it isn't true, but who knows given the heavy propaganda you have to sift through to find a modicum of truth.

    1. Well thanks for posting this unsourced story that's very convenient for one side, and you have no idea if it's true or not.

      1. It ain't my job to work google for people and I'm pretty sure most are not only capable of doing that but can do their own personal assessment on if they think news sources reporting such activity are reputable or not.

        Just if anyone is actually concerned about actual human rights, there seems to be much more going on then what is being made public here in the West. That is all.

      2. Googling 'Ukrainians taping Russians to poles' brings up a number of accounts of looters, as opposed to soldiers, getting saran wrapped to light poles. Here's one. Note that this seems to be a lot of sources using the same few photos.

        Dunno about the 'unspeakable things'. You wonder about the guy with his pants down, but one source captioned that as '...taped him to a pole for police'.

        One source identified a wrapee as a Russian soldier sent to spot targets for missile attacks who happened to be looting on the side, but that same pic is just identified as a civvy looter in other sources. If he was a Russian soldier he isn't in uniform, so I think he could have been summarily executed.

        I wonder what Jimmy thought about shooting looters here in summer 2020.

        Anyway, my search didn't substantiate the claim of widespread abuse of Russian POWs. That seems unlikely when you are trying to encourage desertions.

        1. I don't mind the Ukrainians shrink-wrapping looters (if that is what they were). Quite....poetic.

    2. I don't know if it's true, but I've seen many reports of Jimmy the Dane being caught in flagrante delicto with a German shepherd.

  8. "we overthrew our corrupt government"

    What a bunch of revisionist malarkey. The US Federal Class overthrew the Ukrainian government with their manufactured Color Revolution, just like they did in the USA. And again, just like the USA they replaced with unimaginable corruption and Western degeneracy.

    Burn it to the ground. I hope Putin cleans house in Kiev and then in DC.

    1. Every word after the quote is wrong.

      1. The US wasn’t involved in Ukraines Color Revolution?

        1. My favorite was the Western degeneracy. Ya really smell the Pravda there.

          1. Ukraine went from normal, family values to abortions, gay pride parades and gay marriage .

            It doesn’t get more degenerate than that.

            1. "It doesn’t get more degenerate than that."

              I dunno. Personally, I think invading your neighbors is a lot more degenerate than that.

              I mean, would you rather have a gay pride parade march by your window, or have this happen to your city?

              1. I think your link is preferable to Western degeneracy

            2. Putin and Zelensky are actually rather close on their moral positions, though may try to talk a good game for rhetorical purposes. Putin doesn't have a problem with LGBT and actually told Elton John this to him personally, while remarking how big a fan he is of Elton's music.

              And on those "moral" matters, as Russians actually live, they are no less degenerate than Ukraine.


            3. What business or concern is it of Russia whatever happens in Ukraine?

              Kraft durch Freude in the lebensraum tovarish?

  9. As I keep mentioning, these generations long alienations are hard for me to understand. It took only 20 years for the USA and (North) Vietnam to make up. Armenia-Azerbaijan, Israel-Palestine, those are disputes over present day control of territory. But the sticking point in relations between Armenia and Turkey has been which words to use to describe something that happened in 1915.

    Ben Folds: "...sending dirty vibes my way 'cause my great great great great granddad made someone's great great great great granddaddies slaves. It wasn't my idea."

  10. From Sarah Rainsford with the BBC (

    "Kharkiv is just 40km from the Russian border. Most people there speak Russian as a first language, not Ukrainian, and have friends and relatives on the other side. ... But now that war has exploded into an open invasion, it has destroyed every shred of 'fraternal' relations."

    She also writes that fleeing cars have signs reading дети (children) to deter attack, reminding me of the "baby on board" fad in the United States.

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